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Neal Huntington admits Jung-Ho Kang may not return to Pirates

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Pittsburgh Pirates v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Neal Huntington said Sunday that Jung-Ho Kang may not return to the Pirates next year, or presumably ever, and that the team is preparing for that possibility.

That Kang may never return to the U.S. isn’t particularly news. However, the team has maintained a voice a little more positive than the media as this story has played out. That this type of pessimism is coming from the team itself appears to show just how unlikely it is that Kang will play for the Pirates again.

Huntington acknowledged the Sean Rodriguez trade is part of preparations for a team without Kang, something the Pirates didn’t have as much of a handle on coming into 2017.

Rodriguez is a nice piece to have, and something good could be arranged between him, David Freese, Adam Frazier and Josh Harrison. Of concern here, though, is that the team will bank on guys like Rodriguez and Freese without making upgrades elsewhere. Third base might not be a sinkhole, in this setup, but a downgrade from Kang is likely, and the team will need to add value somewhere if it’s still supposed to be in a window of contention.